The night of 11/12 May was ‘D’ night. Messages from General Alexander and other commanders were read to all troops. Artillery barrage on a colossal scale opened at 2300 hrs.2 Kings unfortunately arrived at their crossing points 30 minutes late owing to guides getting lost and hitting a minefield. The assaulting platoons were met by heavy mortar and Spandau DF fire. Ops were hampered by a dense mist. A direct hit on the control post by a mortar bomb killed OCs of D and C Coy 2/4 Hampshires – also Lieut Geary, a Brigade LO.
Progress on the far bank was severely hampered by a network of minefields and spandau positions. By 1000 hrs 12 May, it became clear that a force composed of about 250 men from 2 Kings and 2 Somerset Light Infantry was established on far bank. No communication was possible with them and the first objective (Brown) had not yet been gained. Heavy casualties were sustained by both assaulting bttns. Lieut Col Pratt (2 Somerset Light Infantry) and Lieut Colonel Garnons Williams (2 Kings) were both wounded – the latter dying of his wounds a day later.
2/4 Hampshires come near river during the early morning and about midday crossed over the Amazon bridge, which had been constructed further to the north in 10 Brigade area. The German OPs on Monte Cassino were successfully smoked off. Supported by tanks of the 19 NZ Armoured Brigade, 2/4 Hampshires attacked successfully in a southerly direction along the river bank, exploiting almost as far as San Angelo and linking up with the composite force of 2 Kings and 2 Somerset LI, which was still holding a precarious bridgehead. In this attack, our own troops suffered only 10 casualties.
13th /14th May.
During the night, 2/4 Hampshires advanced to the 2nd Brigade objective (Blue) without losses. The remainder of 2 Kings and 2 Somerset LI combined to form ‘Smeeforce’ under Major Odling-Smee (2 Kings). This force establish a firm base in the area of the crossing points.
2/4 Hampshires advanced and captured Monte Vertechi (842173) in the face of very heavy mortar fire and shelling.
Lieut Colonel Fowler Esson MC (2/4 Hampshires) wounded by mortar fire. 2/4 Hampshires withdrawn from Vertechi area, approx 2200 hrs. Main body of Brigade HQ left for Piedimonte Alife at 1830 hrs.
Brigade concentrated in rest area.
Brigade moved a few miles south to a less malarious location. Leave and general reorganisation commenced.
Reorganisation and rest.
Brigade Commander held conference with Commanding Officers.